Arts Club Theatre

Easy Money

Play & Lyrics by Mark Leiren-Young Music by Bruce Kellett

Director Bill Millerd Choreographer Denis Simpson

Stanley Theatre: April 30th - May 30th

by Frank C. Scott

Easy Money perfectly captures all the wild chutzpah of Murray Pezim. Known simply as The Pez, this famous Vancouver Stock Exchange promoter played with money as a child plays with a toy. Carefully and carelessly all at the same time. More money sifted through his hands in one day than most of us could earn in ten lifetimes. On a good day, when he was hot, he accounted for fifty percent of all trading on the VSE.

In 1972 after spending $11 million trying to take over Armour Meatpacking, and then loosing $250,000 promoting the Muhammed Ali/George Chuvalo fight, the Pez was left with only $59. One month later he bought a lime company for $2.5 million. Four years later he sold the same company for $45 million.

Dubbed the "Ultimate Promoter," The Pez had a flare for being flamboyant and different. He once gave a plant to a friend as a gift with hundred dollar bills taped to every leaf. He spent thousands of dollars developing a three- wheeled car called The Rascal, and even imported thousands of "baby telephones" for pre-school-age children that couldn't be CSA approved. In a way, Murray Pezim represented everything that was good and bad about greed and money. The Pez had so many ex-wives that his bank considered colour-coding his chequing accounts for him.

Playwright Mark Leiren-Young cleverly wrote his script and lyrics mixing sensitivity and sophistication with plenty of laughter. As the play opens, we see Murray as a young Bay Street butcher lose his life savings of $15,000 on a bad penny stock deal. From this moment on Murray is hooked. His obsession for finding and making the perfect deal takes him from Toronto to Vancouver, through four marriages, Hollywood high society, good deals, bad deals and even a jackknife dive into an empty water-pool.

Actor Alec Willows portrays the flamboyant promoter with finesse. We see The Pez as a rogue, a womanizer, and a gambler. We see his boyish sensitive side, and his manic-depressive tragic side. Willows never once drops the ball or even misses a beat as he takes The Pez and his audience to higher ground.

Director Bill Millerd must have cakewalked into the rehearsal hall every day with this production. He had such a fine cast to work with. Besides Alex Willows leading the cast, Bernard Cuffling, Adam Harrington, Scott McNeil, Lelani Marrell, Neil Minor, and Debbie Timus all show as performers.

Bruce Kellett's music, along with Denis Simpson's choreography added to the glitz and glamour of this feisty little musical.